I don’t know that I’ve felt this much of a disturbance in the Force since the final seconds of The Empire Strikes Back wrapped up. Maybe, just maybe, the ending of The Two Towers left me with that sense of desolation. But the ache in my gut as the first-half of the end of the Marvel coda, Avengers: Infinity War, wound down was palpable. Having waited months after my friends (and casual film fans), I embarked on an attempt at an unbroken viewing of the two-and-a-half-hour film (I only took one break), mesmerized by the colors, sounds, and story of what is to some the greatest Avengers film (I’ll still take Age of Ultron).
The film opens where several other Marvel films ended, mainly the final wrap for Thor: Ragnorak and Guardians of the Galaxy. Thanos is hot for the Infinity Stones (Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, writers of the Captain America films and Thor: Dark World, drew from Jim Starlin’s 1991 story and Jonathan Hickman’s 2013 storyline), and sends his various hench-people to steal them from the folks who have them. That means that Vision, Dr. Strange, and a few other folks from previous Marvel films are in the crosshairs.
For those who don’t know, this is the first half of the overall story and it’s going to end with a cliffhanger. That means for the spectacular fashion in which our superheroes bury the hatchet over their disputes revolving around the Sokovia Accords or interests in Wakanda or … whatever, they all end up getting whupped by the big baddie (played by Josh Brolin). While the ho-hum reality of the first half might give you some grace if you’re a bought-in viewer, the truth is that there are significant losses here that impact the universe, whether those people come back or not.
While the Thanos God complex shows up significantly throughout – he says the worlds need thinned to make things more appealing to everyone else, ironically echoing nearly every James Bond or Mission Impossible baddie in the last thirty years – there’s something appealing about the way that the heroes set everything else aside, knowing that they might lose. While the ending leaves us with more of the House of M issues than actual annihilation, I appreciated that for the first time in awhile, the superhero film actually had superheroes, not antiheroes, in it. We need more examples and action involving doing the right thing no matter what if we’re going to fix many of the world’s current problems.
It was truly amazing how the script and the Russo Brothers’ direction allowed for this to be a truly massive film on multiple stages (and worlds) simultaneously, without losing sight of any of the storylines. It truly was an “event” film, something that too many films are claiming but failing to produce. This wasn’t just about Earth; this was for the fate of the universe.
Throughout the film, the various characters’ worldview and their maturity/immaturity played major roles in the way they showed up and impacted the storyline. Peter Quill’s rage and selfishness versus Peter Parker’s bravery and fear, Vision’s willingness to sacrifice himself with Steve Rogers’ love for others, Tony Stark’s awareness of what marriage and fatherhood might bring versus Thanos’ view of fatherhood… there were plenty of yin and yang, black versus white viewpoints we were given throughout. In the end, the vision of Thanos won the day, but we hold on with bated breath that this wasn’t the last word – we just know some of our heroes will sacrifice all.
Special features on the Blu-ray include the featurette “Strange Alchemy,” as some of your favorite characters meet onscreen for the first time and explain why they teamed up; “The Mad Titan,” highlights the way that Thanos has been present prior to the way he shows up now; “Beyond the Battle: Titan” looks at the battle royale (and stunts) on Thanos’ home world; and “Beyond the Battle: Wakanda” examines the monumental battle in Black Panther’s hometown. Deleted and extended scenes are also included.